Children start learning the moment they are born. They would observe the world around them keenly. Noticing tiny details about parents, extended family, objects around them. Like Maria Montessori says, the children’s brain from 0-6 years is a sponge, soaking information. Being said that it becomes important for parents to introduce children with various activities. Planning activities for toddlers can be overwhelming.
Something that as a parent many would agree with. Toddlers, aged 12 – 36 months are quite dynamic. They start walking, running, jumping during this time frame.
1-2-year olds still stuff things in the mouth. They have a super short attention span. It is unrealistic to expect them to sit still and play. Yet there is vast scope to plan activities for them. The Internet is flooded with ideas. Markets have hundreds of toys. But wait! Your child might not actually need them.
If you are a new parent you might be quite enthusiastic to plan a schedule for activities. Again, that might work well someday, and another day would just be passable. In that case, why do we need to plan activities for toddlers?
Why plan activities for toddlers?
Kids are learning, inquisitive and activities provide a way to channel their curiosity. A plan in hand helps parents and caregivers’ ideas for planning a day. Any activity that is child-led and captures a child’s interest is bound to be a hit.
The child would learn with activities. They would unknowingly work on fine motor skills, gross motor skills, visual discrimination, cognitive and socio-emotional skills.
When to plan activities?
While children are active bundles of energy, following a pattern in daily life helps both the child and parent. A daily ritual prepares them what to expect at the moment. Be it during the morning or as they say goodnight.
The learning works great with a happy well-rested and well-fed toddler. A tired cranky one needs a comfort person.
If any of these activities turn out favorite, you can always add them to your travel bags or take during restaurant visits.
In our previous articles spanning activities of 0-6 months and 6-12 months children, we covered the importance of talking to babies, reading out loud to them, the introduction of music and more. Each of the ideas was inspired by real-life and with minimal usage of toys. In the toddlerhood, your children would enjoy outdoors, (some) social circle and help you around. They would follow you to the kitchen and try to help you. True story! You can plan to make the Kitchen as the new-age classroom for them.
We are segmenting the activities for toddlers based on movement – Action-oriented ones, and Quite-time ideas.
Action-oriented activities for toddlers
Ride a car
Okay, not a real one. Toddlers love moving and ride-on gives them a sense of independence. You are sorted for some time while you explorer chills around. A good quality ride-on can be used indoors as well as outdoors.
Clean car with a sponge
You have a car, now keep it clean. Literally! If running the same ride-on car outdoors and indoor freaks you like us. Keep it clean and ask the toddler to help. Something they are always keen on.
On a warm sunny day makeshift car cleaning station on the balcony. Get a sponge, tear-free soap solution, a bucket of water, and let the child clean his/her car.
As cleaning starts, help the child to figure out how to squeeze a sponge, rub the car and wipe it dry.
Watch how the finger-hand-shoulder muscles are working as the child squeezes and wipes.
Throw and kick the ball
Balls are the most versatile toys. They make the physical activity fun. As the child catches, throws, and kicks the ball he is practicing his gross motor skills, eye-foot coordination is a perceptual-motor skill and confidence.
Tape a few animals in a plastic lid or doors or glass top and let the child peel those tapes. Animals rescued. Easy but help your toddler to enhance his pincer grip. It is a pre-writing skill too.
Twig and leaves collection
While you are off for a morning or evening walk, take a bag along. Ask your toddler to collect a few twigs, leaves and fallen flowers. You can use them in your nature table learning plan or make a craft.
Statue and dance
You might already be dancing a lot with kids. Or even the kids make you dance to their tunes. Mom life! Add the classic statue game to your dance time. This would help them in balancing their body, listening skills and it is fun.
Blow, blow, blow
Blowing is a good exercise for your little one’s jaw muscles and oral motors. The blowing exercises help the toddler to voluntary control of oral movements.
Toddlers love following bubbles, bursting them. Make some bubble with tear-free shampoo or market brought bubble-making solution and encourage the child to blow.
You can add variation with blowing pom poms in a maze or tabletop target spot. Be silly with whistles.
Aim the basket
If you are worried why my toddler throws out everything, folded laundry, toys, spoons… You can actually convert that into a game.
Make some cloth balls or paper balls or any softball and aim for the laundry basket.
Let them practice hand-eye coordination, shoulder flex and grasping skills with this entertaining game.
Hide and seek
This classic game needs no introduction. Earlier you might have played peek-a-boo and now take the game to the next level.
It is quite amusing how toddlers choose to hide behind curtains with the only face hidden.
Dance like a…
Toddlers are free souls. They do dance anywhere, anytime. Add some animal moves to this dancing.
Jump like a frog.
Walk like a gorilla.
You are covering animal studies while dancing. Bang!
Straws /craft sticks in a bottle
Another easy setup activity is with straws or craft sticks and an empty water bottle.
Let the child exercise hand-eye coordination, pincer grip while picking up craft sticks and concentration.
Bubble wrap pathway
Bubble wraps are fun for all ages. A pathway with the same will excite toddlers for long. Let them walk, ramp ride-on cars and feel the bubble crushing.
Sweep around the square
Sweeping square is a Montessori inspired practical life.
Your toddler might have a likeness towards broom in your house. He/ She would surely have also loved to throw toys around. No guessing, right? Add both of them.
Take duct tape and mark a square. Guide your toddler to bring all his/ her toys inside the marked square.
Here again, you can make a variant by marking square on a glass top and ask the toddler to sweep scattered pom poms inside.
Quiet time activities for toddlers
An empty box is a canvas of imagination. Toddlers can imagine it a ball pool, boat, vehicle, etc.
A box is an open-ended toy. There are infinite ways. Size doesn’t matter.
Hands up if you remember playing with shadows in childhood. Take a flashlight and use hands for shadow. Adding paper cut-outs also adds charm. Not much
Fill the box and toss
If an empty box is a game, so is a full one. In earlier months your infant might have loved tossing a basket of toys. They would still love it now.
Have one empty and another full box and let the child toss and transfer the contents.
Your intervention would be the least needed. They would remain engaged for some minutes.
Pull the box, Push it around
Yes, the box again. Tie a ribbon poking two holes in the box. It would become a wagon for them.
Let the child push and pull with the contents around the house.
You can ask them to push your laundry basket too. Just an idea that works for us.
Stay tuned as we are going to share more activities for toddlers soon. You can find our activities on Instagram.